'This Week' Transcript: Brown, Corker, Gibbs

ABC'S "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS"

TAPPER: Good morning, everyone. George Stephanopoulos is taking a well deserved vacation this week.

Joining us this morning from Cleveland, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and from Chattanooga, Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.

Of course, gentlemen, the big story is the economy, and we'll get to that in a second. But first, for the second day in a row, Israel is launching air raids into Gaza as a response to Hamas violating the fragile cease-fire and firing rockets into southern Israel. The death toll so far is the largest in this conflict in decades. About 280 killed, more than 600 wounded. Hamas is now calling for a third intifidah.

Senator Corker, you're a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Are you at all concerned that these Israeli strikes are disproportionate or will ultimately hurt the cause of peace in the region?

CORKER: Well, look, certainly I'm concerned about the conflict itself. This is the largest, as you mentioned, in casualties we've had in two decades there, and I think the Palestinian government has actually condemned Hamas.

So far, certainly all of us -- our hearts and prayers go out to people on both sides, and certainly especially the civilians who have been harmed in the Gaza area. But mostly, it's been confined to people who are part of the security forces for Hamas, and certainly all of us want to see an end to this conflict and some long-term peace settlement actually occur there.

TAPPER: Senator Brown, Israel is now talking about sending ground troops. They're calling up the reservists. Is this a good idea?

BROWN: I'm not sure it's a good idea. I mean, Israel certainly has the right to self-defense, of course. Hamas has not recognized Israel's right to exist. What Hamas has done by shooting its missiles into Israel has been condemned, as Senator Corker said, condemned by the Palestinian Authority and so many others.

But I'm hopeful that with a new president -- you know, you look at President Bush is now in a petty weakened state, and countries around the world know that. I'm hopeful that as this transition comes, as we look to January, that strong presidential leadership can make a difference here.

TAPPER: All right. Turning to the economy. In this morning's Washington Post, incoming Obama economic adviser Larry Summers writes that, quote, "in this crisis, doing too little poses a greater threat than doing too much." The Obama team is working with Congress, pushing them to have an economic stimulus package of perhaps as much as $850 billion on President-elect Obama's desk by inauguration day.

Senator Brown, how big should this package be? What number are you looking for?

BROWN: Well, I'm not looking for a number today. You know, as this -- as we get more and more -- as we see more and more how this economy is going, that number continues to increase, that economists, conservative and liberal economists alike, are calling for it. It was originally a few hundred billion, then it was $500, now it's a bigger number than that.

When you see what's happened with consumer spending, at Christmas especially, Christmas sales, holiday sales, and you understand that 70 percent of the economy is all about consumer spending, we need a real stimulus to get people to spend money. And that means putting money in infrastructure, water and sewer.

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